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Showing posts from June, 2011

Ten Rules for Musicians

1. Play the song, not just your instrument.
2. Know the melody and HOW to play it. If you don’t know the melody, you don’t know the song.
3. Know the lyrics and what the song is about.
4. Listen to the other players, particularly the drummer and bass player.
5. Participate in the groove.
6. Pay attention to the band leader.
7. Give it 100% from load in to load out.
8. Don’t denigrate your band mates. For sidemen, make the front person sound good. For front persons, make the sidemen sound good.
9. Load your gear for money… play for the love of music.
10. Always eat the free food.
11. Never believe that any complex topic can be summed up in ten rules!

Important Pop Music? Really?

Question recently asked on Facebook:

Do you agree that most of the important white pop music of the 20th century has been based on white musicians imitating black musicians?

This is a complicated question because it comprises several nested questions, each of which is complex in its own right.

Question 1: What is “imitation” and what is influence.

In my life, it has been a de facto assumption that Elvis fashioned his vocal style from Otis Blackwell (“Don’t Be Cruel”), Little Junior Parker (“Mystery Train”), Arthur Cruddup (“That’s All Right Mama”). Led Zepplin went so far as to copy a Willie Dixon tune and claim authorship (“Whole Lotta Love”). And fergit about Vanilla Ice, fer cryin’ out loud!

However, the lines are not clearly cut. For example, Jimmie Rodgers undoubtedly heard and admired early rural delta blues performers. But, conversely, great bluesmen such as Muddy Waters and Chester “Howlin’ Wolf” Burnett professed to be fans of Rodgers’ music, the latter even suggesting that h…